Embracing the range of culture

BY MARISA WAY | APRIL 01, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Craft Critique Culture Conference marks its 10th year at the UI on Saturday.

The event, “The Fringe, Or All Things Peripheral,” will begin at 9 a.m. with registration in the Adler Journalism and Mass Communication Building. The event will continue through April 4. Admission is free.

Melanie Reichwald, a third-year graduate student in English, is on the Conference’s Organizing Committee along with fellow graduate students Kerry Delaney, Sonia Johnson, Jillian Walker, and Lacey Worth. Reichwald said that although the event is mainly planned and attended by graduate students, the conference is open to all members of the UI and Iowa City community.

“For graduate students, it provides an opportunity to really help professionalize for those who are presenting — it is designed with that in mind,” she said. “But in terms of the audience, we want as wide a range as we can get.”

The conference is designed to focus on the intersecting points of critical and creative academic methods. Many groups on campus speak to the conference’s interdisciplinary nature by sponsoring the event. Some include the American studies department, the communication department, several foreign-language departments, and, of course, the English department.

Because the conference tries to reach so many different areas, Reichwald said, the committee tries to find a theme that can be applied to a wide breadth of subjects. This year’s theme, which focuses on the fringe of society in writing and literature, will open up the floor for panel discussions on “Religious (Dis)Order,” “Peripheral Pop,” and “Queer Politics.”

The panel selected UI Associate Professor of English Loren Glass to be the conference’s first keynote speaker. His address, titled “Pornography and the Paratext,” will occur at 11 a.m. in 101 of the Becker Communication Studies Building.

Glass said his address looks at an introduction of certain literature into the mainstream following a lessening of print censorship in the ’50s and ’60s. This loss of censorship came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling *Roth vs. United States*, which looked at laws defining free speech and obscenity.

“The paratext — that’s a word that refers to all the various verbal visual materials that make a text into a book, such a cover design, dedications, blurbs, and epilogues,” Glass said. “The people who overturned these laws did so by creating paratext that persuaded people that these books had literary value.”

Glass’s topic, which is based on a chapter from a book he is working on, also examines how society’s definition of peripheral writing can change.

“A lot of my work is about that passage,” he said. “It’s about how literature or cultural materials begin as peripheral or underground and then later are accepted into the mainstream … That’s a fairly common passage for a lot of modern literature. It begins with a very small audience, and then a generation or two later, it’s being studied.”

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